* Syria: The ground troops of Syria’s President Assad have seemingly vanished in what is called the rebel-held territory, but that has not prevented the residents from continued aerial attacks.
Afghanistan: The US Department of Defense has announced that because of the rise in “insider” attacks against coalition troops, the United States Government has suspended indefinitely the combat training of a significant number of Afghan Local Police. The number of such trainees is about 1000. In addition, it is hoped that by pre-vetting new participants and re-venting present participants the US will be better able to weed out potential Afghan inside attackers
* The Air force Print News (AFNS) reported that the Iraq Government not only is anxiously awaiting delivery of American F-16 Fighting Falcons but, in what has been described as an “historic partnership”, Iraqis fighter pilots are receiving their flight training pursuant to a unique agreement with the Arizona Air National Guard Fighter Wing. Obviously, as reported in the AFNS, what is being sought is a long-term “war-fighting” partnership for the United States through the year 2020 in a very troubled area of the world. A political/geographic area of uncertainty at every turn.
*Egypt: Front page New York Times is the story of 16 months of intense and frustrating negotiation with Egypt regarding the debt relief we have given Egypt over many years. The United States has through something bordering upon mere tradition provide Egypt with 1.3 billion dollars in military assistance. Then came the spring revolutions and the political upheaval in that country which produced no clear leader and no clear road Egypt was to follow. What was very clear at the State Department was that the United States became apprehensive and mistrustful of the new Islamist government under President Morsi. Egypt on the other hand and in the midst of political uncertainty was faced with a 25 million budget shortfall. Egypt turned to the International Monetary Fund and then for the new president’s first trip abroad he scheduled not a trip to the United States but to China. And while the United States is desperate to have Egypt as an ally and as an ally toward Israel, the Egyptian Government has decreed that all women news commentators and new broadcasters wear the traditional head covering while on air. EDITOR’S NOTE: The country is clearly moving away from its secular past and more toward an Islamist state. How far and how fast will it travel and what will be the United States influence if any notwithstanding its billions in aid?
* Syria: The United Nations has reported deadly and freighting statistics. More than 100,000 people have fled Syria in August alone. And more than 5,000 have been killed in what is probably the deadliest month since the uprising last March. And now it is reported that young rebels have threatened that when they achieve their goals in their struggle to overthrow the present regime, they vow to kill all those who have formed the minority that backed the Assad government.
* South China Sea: The Voice of America has been particularly adroit in following the continued flare-up brewing in the South China Sea. This is not a” he said she said” situation; it is territorial claims by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Japan and the Philippines each claiming parts of the SCS. While the United States has been seeking to encourage agreement along the lines of a code of conduct for all the parties involved inured to establish procedures for resolving these type of international water disputes, it is Indonesia that has been the key play. Also sitting in the background has been Singapore who while having enjoyed close ties to the United States is at the same moment attempting to be an independent local power broker and is willing to play a more active role in resolving area disputes.
* Egypt: Memri reports an excerpt from a lecture delivered by an Egyptian Cleric which gives one additional pause to consider the direction of Egypt under its new government. : “Islam instructs a man to beat his wife as a last resort before divorce, so that she will mend her ways, treat him with kindness and respect, and know that her husband has a higher status than her.”
*Southern California: It has not been widely reported but senior police officials have warned of terrorist attacks in Southern California if Iran is attacked even if the US does not participate in the violence. It is reported by the LAPD that there are a number of “active plots” in the southern regions of the state. They admit they are tracking government operatives from Iran, Hezbollah and the home grown extremists. Fascinating also being watched by the LAPD terrorists unit are the animal rights groups. What is causing some consternation within the entire picture is that the LA Police Commission has approved new guidelines to determine if suspicious behavior is such that would warrant further investigation. The catch word although not employed is “profiling”. The new guideline is that a police office may reported a person whose activity maybe not be illegal but could be linked to terrorism. EDITOR’S NOTE: Frankly that is gobbledygook. If a person’s activity could be linked to terrorism then the activity is illegal.
* Department of defense /American Forces Press Service reported on the progress of this fall’s military exercise conducted between Israel and the United States. The exercise called Austere Challenge 12 and will provide vital defense training for both the Israel and the United States. It is reported at all deployed systems will be in full operation mode which means that the exercise will include missile interceptors (and important item for Israel’s defense).
* More from Al Qaeda: Yet another militant leader from Jordan with links to Al Qaeda has warned that his “extremist” group will began a series of at attack that he describes as deadly in neighboring Syria to bring down its President Bashar Assad. His rallying cry was “our fighters are coming to get you.”
Commentary: The Indiscriminate Use of the Word Terrorism
From the Washington Post: “Americans were shocked to learn that the prime suspects…were not foreign terrorists but men from the nation’s heartland. The plot was not hatched in Beirut or Baghdad but possibly in the backwoods of … by a paramilitary cell ….. (The suspects) are products of Middle America.”
These words were written 17 years ago in 1995, by Dale Russakoff and Serge F. Kowalski, both then staff writers for the Washington Post. This long article is chilling more so because it was two Americans with terrifying and unpredictable cunning, who after planning for an extended period of time, heaped violence of horrific proportions on other Americans. Their sheer brutality brought alarming headlines across the entire nation. Some of their victims were adults but many, far too many, were children playing in a day care center when the defendants bombed the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This was not a hate crime. The targets were neither black nor Hispanics nor “foreign” looking. The defendants were not racists.
The two killers sought and intentionally murdered citizens of not some distant nation but those who were born and lived within their own country. The incident became domestically and internationally known as “The Oklahoma City Bombing”. No prior set of domestic violence in anyone’s recent memory could have predicted or even explained a domestic act of violence as catastrophic as the Oklahoma City bombing. Until that date one could have predicted how the average reader would have defined domestic terrorism. But to create the mental imagery of such an event was unheard of. We were well aware of and thought we understood the nature of international terrorism. Until that time it was an act of violence far from our shores, attributed to people who hated Americans, American interests and ideals. And then, while not directly articulated, the purveyors of that violence “weren’t Americans…they were foreigners”. Domestic violence of the nature of the Oklahoma City bombing—killing of one’s own —-was an anathema and so much more because of what appeared as a normal or accepted relationship between those killed and the killers.
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the two main actors in The Oklahoma City bombing were from middle America—as describe in the Washington Post article– two “kids from the heartland of America” who met in early adulthood, became obsessed with guns and the enemies of the American way of life, as they envisioned both an enemy and what was to them the “American way of life”. Then a historical event occurred that monopolized the headlines for days across America: The firestorm in Waco Texas and the shootout between federal agents and the followers of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians that left 80 dead. Both adults and children. The attack against the Branch Davidians was touted by many as “instigated” by federal officers—the United States Government— thought by many as oppressors who declared war on innocent people and whose self defined individual freedom had been encroached upon not by some foreign entity but the federal government.
That event propelled McVeigh to define who he was and what steps he had to take to defend his country and his sense of individual rights. The question for him was: who was the “wrongdoer” at Waco, and the answer to him was simple and straight forward: The federal government and all it stood for. This conclusion easily fed into his obsession to protect his guns and their use. It is reported that he became enthralled and spelled bound by the Battle of Lexington, which as history has taught us, was the firing of the first shots that began the American Revolution for individual freedom from the tyrannical King of England.
The question then becomes how should we characterize or define McVeigh and Nichols? They were not part of a lynch mob in some southern state, they didn’t ride through some slum of a city with a poor immigrant population and throw handmade gasoline bombs, they weren’t high on some potent drug and shot-up a high school prom that they had been denied access to, they weren’t two malcontents who lost control of their emotions. And, equally important, they didn’t fit into any of the usual slots in our statutory criminal justice system. They were terrorists. They were terrorists who were born and raised in the United States. They did not go to some foreign land to learn the art of violence. They were not financed by any foreign nation, religion or foreign political entity. They did not even envision the total overthrow of the United States Government and its replacement, they were eager to “merely” change its structure and definition to fit a less authoritarian and dominating form. They sought a movement which they believed had to be imposed by force in order to attain their model of what they believed to be the original definition of individual liberty. They were terrorists. Terrorists who were born and raised in the United States, whose target was a “federal” office building filled with “federal” employees.
The problem in the ensuing years, as we became more accustomed to acknowledging the idea that terrorism in all forms exists, was the overuse of the word terrorism. With the least provocation, the word became an euphuism for anything and anyone who frightened us with violent behavior; we were thus “terrorized by terrorists”. In late 2002, what began as a robbery and a murder of three in Louisiana and Alabama and that initially produced no national headlines, culminated in screaming headlines of “terrorism” in Washington, the Nation’s Capital. During a three week period, following the murder in Louisiana and Alabama, people drove in fear in Washington and suburban Virginia. The headlines spoke of fear and terrorism, as random shots rang out, and one at a time, over 21 days, ten people were murdered and at least three others were critically injured by unknown sniper fire.
“Terrorism”, “terrorists” and “terror” were the three main words repeated over and over. All the television networks provided live coverage of each attack, with some broadcasts lasting for hours. The New York Times covered it extensively and as it was discovered later, most of its sensationalized reporting was fabricated to create the aura of a series of terrorist attacks. In truth, it was one man with a teenage accomplice that created the carnage. His aim was to cover his tracks. He had murdered his wife and was now attempting to create a picture that his wife had been a victim of a string of random killings. Did these killings terrorize the inhabitants of the Washington Beltway, and the answer is clearly: Yes. Did the killer attempt to create the aura of terror and fear? And the answer was clearly: Yes. But he was neither a terrorist nor can his acts be described as terrorism.
On August 5, a man walked into a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee and killed six people before he was seriously shot and, thereafter, committed suicide. The first words heard on the news were that there was a terrorist attack at a Sikh temple. It was reported that he thought he was killing Muslims. For hours after the attack and the death of the attacker, the local police, speaking to the worldwide news media, talked of and described the incident as an “act of terrorism”. It was not. The killer was a racist not a terrorist.
Whether it be the “white warriors”, or a “neo-Nazi white supremacist”, or an “Aryan Nations” member, or an individual connected to the “racial holy war” movement or any generic white supremacist interest group spread across the United States, they are not terrorists…domestic or international. They are racists. Yes, they have committed terrible atrocities by killing scores of people in a day care center or killing a Filipino American postal carrier or in a drive-by shooting in a racial holy war. Or even at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee. These killers were not terrorists, they are racist ideologues.
The word “terrorist”, alongside the misguided phrase “war on terrorism”, superimposed with the careless use of the word “terrorism”, has taken on meanings far beyond, not merely what is necessary, but what is misleading and dangerous for the proper platform to discuss how to approach the definition, interdiction and prosecution of certain acts of violence. There has been a world-wide proliferation of definitions for the word “terrorism”, and much of it depends upon who you represent and where you reside. It depends upon your religious bent and your political and cultural motivation. In addition, we—individually, in the media and by some law enforcement authorities, continually employ the word “terrorism” in a dangerously indiscriminately manner. Probably, what is more clearly understood, or should be, is what the word terrorism does not encompass what that emotional word embraces.